<p><strong>If these walls could talk, they'd solve a <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/Maya?source=news_xultun_mural">Maya</a> mystery.</strong></p><p><strong>Five years ago Lucas Asicona Ramírez (far right, pictured with family) began scraping his walls while renovating his home in the <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/guatemala-guide/">Guatemalan</a> village of Chajul. As the plaster fell away, a multi-wall Maya mural saw light for the first time in centuries, according to archaeologist <a href="http://www.archeo.uj.edu.pl/nowyswiat_zralka.html">Jarosław Źrałka</a>, who recently revealed the finds to National Geographic News.</strong></p><p>The paintings depict figures in procession, wearing a mix of traditional Maya and Spanish garb. Some may be holding human hearts, said Źrałka, who was working on the other side of Guatemala when a colleague tipped him off to the kitchen murals.</p><p>The recent exposure has faded the art considerably, leaving precious little time to unlock their secrets, he added.</p><p>That the paintings endure at all is "a fairly remarkable thing," according to Boston University archaeologist <a href="http://www.nationalgeographic.com/explorers/bios/william-saturno/?source=news_xultun">William Saturno</a>, who examined pictures of the murals at National Geographic News's request and believes the art to be authentic.</p><p>"We don't get a lot of this type of artwork; it's not commonly preserved in the New World," said Saturno, a <a href="http://www.nationalgeographic.com/explorers/bios/william-saturno/">National Geographic grantee</a>. "It'd be neat to see who the folks were who painted on the wall and why."</p><p>(<a href="http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/news/history-archaeology-news/maya-art-calendar-vin/">Video: Mysterious Maya Calendar and Mural Found.</a>)</p><p><em>—Rachel Kaufman</em></p>

Living With the Past

If these walls could talk, they'd solve a Maya mystery.

Five years ago Lucas Asicona Ramírez (far right, pictured with family) began scraping his walls while renovating his home in the Guatemalan village of Chajul. As the plaster fell away, a multi-wall Maya mural saw light for the first time in centuries, according to archaeologist Jarosław Źrałka, who recently revealed the finds to National Geographic News.

The paintings depict figures in procession, wearing a mix of traditional Maya and Spanish garb. Some may be holding human hearts, said Źrałka, who was working on the other side of Guatemala when a colleague tipped him off to the kitchen murals.

The recent exposure has faded the art considerably, leaving precious little time to unlock their secrets, he added.

That the paintings endure at all is "a fairly remarkable thing," according to Boston University archaeologist William Saturno, who examined pictures of the murals at National Geographic News's request and believes the art to be authentic.

"We don't get a lot of this type of artwork; it's not commonly preserved in the New World," said Saturno, a National Geographic grantee. "It'd be neat to see who the folks were who painted on the wall and why."

(Video: Mysterious Maya Calendar and Mural Found.)

—Rachel Kaufman

Photograph courtesy Robert Slabonski

Exclusive Pictures: Maya Murals Found in Family Kitchen

Exclusive: When Lucas Asicona Ramírez began renovating his centuries-old home, a strangely garbed Maya procession paraded into view.

Read This Next

The most ancient galaxies in the universe are coming into view
‘Microclots’ could help solve the long COVID puzzle
How Spain’s lust for gold doomed the Inca Empire

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet